Making Parent-Child Communication Happen

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Time: When the latter (or last) of the participating family member comes home, a minimum of
ten minutes per conversation.

Location: A spot in the home that provides some privacy and where interruption is least likely.

Ground Rule: Both (or all) participants must stay seated during the entire conversation.

Some Suggested Questions: (Best are questions without yes/no answers)

– Describe what happened today.
– What were the high points?
– Did you have any disappointments or angry moments? What were they?
– Does the child have much homework? Can the parent be helpful?
– What can we do over the weekend?
– What family problems do we need to discuss?

Dealing With Angry Feelings

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There are many positive ways a kid can deal with anger-provoking incidents — ignoring the incident, considering the long-term consequences of an inappropriate response, getting help from an adult, etc.

What follows are 11 options for youngsters to be aware of:


                                                                                                                              Okay for you?

Ignore the comment or incident:

  • a. Think about why you are angry.                                                      _______________________
  • b. Question the importance of the issue.                                         ______________________
  • c. Decide to ignore it or choose a non-violent reaction.          ______________________

2. Remove yourself physically from the person you’re angry at.       _______________________
Move (if possible) toward a group of persons with whom you are friendly.  ___________________

3. To express anger, use an “I-Message.” (see below)                       _________________

4. Take five deep breaths.                                                                                ___________________

5. Count backward from ten to one.                                                         ____________________

6. Close your eyes and imagine you’re in a peaceful place.          ____________________

7. Consider the possible long-term possible consequences
of your anger-driven actions.                                                                     _____________________

8. When in a heated argument, keep your voice low and calm.     _____________________

9. When the anger won’t go away, let off steam in a
positive way (take a walk, run, or bicycle around
the block, pound a pillow, etc.)                                                                  _____________________

10. When you’re angry with someone, but you’re not
sure why, write a letter to the person, but don’t send it.             _______________________

11. When your temper or desire for revenge is about
to result in a bad decision, get help from an adult
(parent, teacher, counselor, etc.)                                                               _______________________



Example 1:

I feel…………………hurt………
When you……………punish me without giving me a chance to explain what happened…

Because…………………I want you to understand the whole situation.
Please will you………let me tell you what happened?

Example 2:

I feel……………….proud……
When you…………..tell me I’m smart………….
Because………………it makes me feel good.
Please, will you………….tell me that more often when I show that I’m smart?


Write your own I-Message

  1. I feel__________________________________________________
  2. When you____________________________________________
  3. Because______________________________________________
  4. Please, will you? _____________________________________________________________________________________?

Non-Violent Response Match (Quiz for Youth on Non-Violent Strategies)

Enter letter of the most appropriate response after angry trigger. The same letter can be used for more than one number.

  1. You’re alone at school. Somebody thinks you are a member of an opposing gang, and wants to go out to the staircase to settle things. _______
  2. A teacher unfairly identifies you as having thrown a spitball in class. _______
  3. Your brother is playing the VCR so loud that you can’t hear your favorite program. You want him to know how you feel about the situation. _______
  4. Your body tightens as you become angry with your mother’s constant criticism of you. _______
  5. A bully tries to provoke you into a fight by calling your mother a bad name (even though he’s never met her.) ________
  6. You are continuously angry with your girlfriend but are confused as to the reasons. _______
  7. All day, your mind has been so filled with anger that you can’t study for a test. _______
  8. You have a history of fighting your older, big brother. He starts shouting at you. You feel like shouting even louder back at him. _________
  9. A student you have had run-ins with gives you a disrespectful look. _______
  10. You plan to get revenge on a kid at school tomorrow by planning an ambush. ______
  11. You are angry with your mother, and wish you had something to say to her other than call her a bad name. ________
    • a. Ignore what happened.
      b. Take a walk or run or ride your bicycle around the block.
      c. Keep your voice low and calm.
      d Wait until the end of the class period and explain your case.
      e. Use an “I-Message.”
      f. Get help from an adult.
      g. Write a letter, but don’t actually send it.
      h. Take five deep breaths.


When The Consequences of an Act Are Not Anticipated

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The actions we take and the choices we make have consequences. We don’t always think through the results of what we do before we do them. There are consequences to the ways we resolve conflicts or respond to situations that bring up strong feelings. By thinking about actions before we take them, we can improve the chances that the results will be positive.

Short-term consequences are the immediate results of our actions. They are usually the feeling you experience from making a decision.

Long-term consequences are the results of our actions that may affect our lives over a longer period of time.

For example, someone might get you so angry that you hit him. The short-term consequences are that you might experience a release of your anger, and feel good about not being pushed around. The long-term consequences may be that you get caught, which may result in arrest or suspension from school.

Analyze the actions below in terms of short-term and long-term consequences. Think about the positive and negative results of the actions.

  1. ACTION — Your friend heard a rumor that Jesse, a boy from another gang, was going to beat you up after school. You get backup and wait for him across the street after school. You knock him to the ground.

SHORT-TERM CONSEQUENCE ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCE ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

           2. ACTION — it is a warm summer night. There is a party in the park. Your neighbor left his keys in his car, so you take it. You decide to go on a joy ride.

SHORT-TERM CONSEQUENCE ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCE ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

          3. ACTION — your girlfriend is sick, so you ask another girl to the dance.

SHORT-TERM CONSEQUENCE _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCE _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Think of an action that you took during the past month that had negative long-term consequences. How did you make your choice? Were you influenced by a short-term consequence? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What tough important decision do you have to make now? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What will influence your decision? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



How Kids Can Deal With Bullies and How Their Parents Can Help

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Here’s what not to do and why:

  1. Don’t cry, if you can avoid it. Bullies love having power over people. When you cry, you give them what they want.
  2. Don’t try to get even. Bullies hate this. It makes them madder and meaner.
  3. Don’t fight back physically. Bullies usually pick on people who are smaller and weaker than they are. You could get hurt.
  4. Don’t make threats. Bullies respond to threats with more bullying.
  5. Don’t ignore the bullying. Bullies want a reaction from the people they’re picking on. If you ignore them, they’ll try harder.
  6. Don’t stay home from school. Bullies who can scare people away from school feel really powerful. In addition, skipping school keeps you from learning.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Tell a friend — someone who will listen to you, support you and stick up for you. Tell your parents, too. Clearly explain what kind of help you need.
  2. Tell a teacher, especially if the bullying happens at school. Bullies are sneaky — they do most of their bullying where adults can’t see or hear it. So your teacher might not know about the bullying unless you tell him/her.
  3. When someone bullies you, stand up straight, look the bully in the eye, and say in a firm, confident voice, “Leave me alone!” or “Stop it! I don’t like that.” Bullies don’t expect their victims to stick up for themselves. This might be enough to make them stop.
  4. Stay calm and walk away. Walk toward a crowded place or a group of your friends. Bullies usually don’t pick on people in groups. They don’t like being outnumbered.
  5. Plan alternate routes. Decide when and where the bullying most often occurs, and then find safer routes. If it’s on the bus, find other transportation. If it’s in the park, stay away.
  6. Develop a sense of humor. Laughing at yourself or cracking jokes about your own shortcomings can help defuse situations.
  7. Go out of your way to give sincere compliments to those who might bully you. This makes it harder for them to be mean.
  8. Become interested in what potential bullyers (and other kids) are doing and talking about.
  9. Develop more peer friendships. Learn how to initiate conversations, etc.
  10. Learn martial arts. Some kids find that learning martial arts, boxing, or weight-lifting improves their self-confidence. Might this be your kid?

The Importance of Choosing Friends Wisely

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Before dealing with specific individuals, parents can help their child understand the difference between positive friends (who care what happens to their buddies) and negative friends (who don’t care.) Parents can encourage their children to select their friends rather than being selected, which can lead to being surrounded by the “wrong crowd.”

The selection of positive friends can be facilitated by identifying what “red flag” behavior might provide a reason to not become too close to a particular individual. Such behaviors might include:

  • Cutting classes
  • Sudden aggressive behavior
  • Ignoring curfews
  • Frequent disrespect of others
  • Constantly lying
  • A jealous streak
  • Consistently ignoring the feelings of others
  • Inability to listen to the thought of others


The Increased Challenge of Preventing Teenage Substance Abuse

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Today’s weed is often laced with high-potency THC, a psychoactive component. In 1995, the average concentration of THC in cannabis seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration was about 4%. By 2017, it was 17%. In 2022, samples showed THC concentration as high as 95%.

THC has been shown in studies* (see below) to lead to psychosis (disconnection from reality leading to failure to adhere to society’s laws.) Symptoms of psychosis can include violent behavior, lifelong psychiatric disorders, an increased likelihood of depression, suicidal ideation, and loss of memory. Despite these dangers, the potency of marijuana is largely unregulated.

The reason why weed can have especially harmful effects during the teenage years is that at that stage of life the human brain is still developing and is therefore particularly less resistant to adverse substances. And so, the marijuana industry has become a money making machine which places profit over the welfare of America’s young people.

*Studies by Martin DiForti, a psychiatric clinician in London. Dr. Norman Miller, an addiction psychiatrist and Dr. Eric Voth, an IASIC physician.

An experience we use with teenagers regarding substance use follows: 


I recognize that you may or may not have used drugs. To the extent that you have or might someday do so, place a 1 next to the most likely reason, a 2 next to the second most likely reason, and a 3 next to the third most likely reason.  

___ Relieve Boredom 

___ Feel Good 

___ Forget Your Problems and Relax 

___ Have Fun 

___ Satisfy Your Curiosity 

___ Take Risks 

___ Ease Your Pain 

___ Feel Grown-Up 

___ Show Your Independence 

___ Belong to a Special Group 

___ Look Cool 



  • What are alternative ways of meeting the above needs?        

For those you who may be using drugs or alcohol, what changes in your lives have you experienced?  

  • Are you more concerned that there will be consequences for your breaking the law? 
  • Are there changes in your physical appearance?  
  • Have you stopped doing things which you used to enjoy? 
  • Do you feel you need drugs or alcohol to get through the day or week?  
  • Are you becoming more isolated from friends and family? 
  • Has your school attendance and/or grades declined? 


What Parents Can Do To Help Their Bullying Child

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One of the saddest recent events was the suicide of the 14-year-old New Jersey girl who had been mercilessly bullied. Unfortunately, this tragedy was far from being a unique occurrence. If a child you have responsibility for shows a need to dominate his/her peers, your first step should be to understand what they hope to achieve through such behavior. Some of the possibilities include the following:

Bullies often are intimidating victims in order to obtain something of value (cash, clothes, electronics, etc.)

  • Bullies may be seeking revenge on someone who’s gotten them in trouble.
  • Bullies feel emotionally uplifted when they feel a sense of domination over their peers.
  • Bullies may feel an urge to act against those kids whom they dislike or who come from a different demographic.
  • Through cyber-bullying to create public embarrassment for the targeted individual.
  • As parents or caseworkers begin to understand the reasons why a youngster may be bullying, they need to consider how to prevent such behavior in the future. 

     1.) First parents can help their child clarify the reason for any bullying behavior (please see above.)

     2.) Parents can connect the behavior to the feelings and needs which lead to the bullying behavior.

     3.) Parents can help their bullying children seek other ways of dealing with these feelings and needs.

     4.) Parents can show their bullying children that they should treat others as they would like to be treated. Using a reverse role play may be helpful. Have bullies play the part of their victims.

     5.) Parents can help their bullying children make a sincere apology to their victims. Most importantly, the apology must be specific as to what the bullying behavior is and must contain a promise not to make the same mistake again.

Identifying Leaders and Followers

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If kids are not to be victims of peer pressure, they must be LEADERS, not FOLLOWERS! A first step is to determine which they primarily are.

Some of the issues our program and my forthcoming book explore in order to clarify the leader/follower question include the following:

  • Do they feel okay expressing an unpopular opinion when a group of their peers is around?
  • Do they criticize peers who make offensive or prejudiced statements?
  • Would they criticize a disruptive student in class who is making it difficult for you to hear the teacher?

Some additional issues to help kids determine whether they are leaders or followers will be included in my forthcoming book “Youth In Jeopardy: Keeping Kids Out of Trouble.” They will include the following:

  • Do they suggest solutions when the group they’re in has a problem?
  • Do they choose their friends or wait to be chosen?
  • Do they apologize when there is bad behavior on both sides during an argument before the other person does?


The Harm Caused By Negative Peer Pressure

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One of the most frustrating potential feelings emerges with the realization that our children are succumbing to negative peer pressure which could lead to delinquent behavior.

One reason for their frustration is that parents feel incapable of influencing who their children hang out with. It is true that parents cannot select their children’s friends, but they can influence choices by providing honest feedback about how they view particular individuals. In order to do that, of course, parents must attempt to put themselves in situations where they can spend some time with these friends.

Before parents are in a position to influence their children’s choices of friends, they must develop an understanding of how positive and negative peer pressure works.

In order to avoid violent and criminal behavior, teenagers must seek out those who are at low-risk in terms of violent behavior. Youngsters must choose friends who are not consumers of alcohol and/or drugs. The youths must try to differentiate those friends who intend to perform well in their academics and those who have a history of violent behavior. It is helpful to become involved in varied activities including clubs, volunteer work, and sports, so that they will avoid the boredom that is often produced by long periods at home and directionless “hanging out.” Anti-social behavior is often a reaction to feelings of boredom. 

What follows are questions which help a youngster evaluate whether his/her chosen friends are influencing their behavior in a positive or negative peer pressure.


1. How do you determine who your true friends are? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. Do you hang out with a group much? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. What is considered cool behavior by your group or close friends? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. What do you need to do in order to fit into the group? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5. Who in your social group influences your behavior the most? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

6. What do you do to please yourself? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

7. What do you do to please others? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

8. Do you think you try harder to please yourself or others? ___________________

     Why? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

9. Does that work for you? ___________________

     Why or why not? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

10. What is the worst type of trouble you have been in the past two years? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

11. Did any of your friends play a part in your getting into trouble? ________________________

12. When asked to do something you’re not sure about, how do you decide what to do? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

13. Are their plusses as friends more important than their negative impact on your behavior? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

14. Do you need to change friends? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Parent-Child Conflict

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One of the underlying factors of domestic violence is the lack of regular communication between family members. In extreme situations, family members do little more than pass each other on their way to their respective bedrooms. When parents and their children don’t communicate about the everyday occurrences in their lives, they find themselves mostly talking about stressful and confrontational events — often a child’s misbehavior.

In order to ensure more regular communication, family members must establish a time and place for discussions.


Time: When the latter (or last) of the participating family member comes home, a minimum of ten minutes per conversation.

Location: A spot in the home that provides some privacy and where interruption is least likely.

Ground Rule: Both (or all) participants must stay seated during the entire conversation.


Some suggested Questions: (Best are questions without yes/no answers)

  • Describe what happened today
  • What were the high points?
  • Did you have any disappointments or angry moments? What were they?
  • Does the child have much homework? Can the parent be helpful?
  • What can we do over the weekend?
  • What family problems do we need to discuss?